Portrait of Edd Dumbill, taken by Giles Turnbull

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XTech Conference
a European web technology conference

The Web as it was meant to be used

Since giving XTech 2006 the tagline "Building Web 2.0", I've received a few questions as to how wise this was. The Web 2.0 label has been accused in some quarters of being a vague, marketing-oriented, term. Perhaps an attempt to kickstart a new bubble.

I was going to write further, defending my choice: that, practically speaking, Web 2.0 encapsulates a combination of technologies and practices driving the web forward.

Yes, it's a label of convenience, but the implementation trends are real. The maturation of XML, a revival in browser technology, a willingness to share data openly and new web development frameworks.

Just as I embarked on distilling these thoughts into a fuller form, Paul Graham published an excellent essay on Web 2.0. In it he analyses the Web 2.0 term:

Does "Web 2.0" mean anything? Till recently I thought it didn't, but the truth turns out to be more complicated. Originally, yes, it was meaningless. Now it seems to have acquired a meaning. And yet those who dislike the term are probably right, because if it means what I think it does, we don't need it.

So what's the reasoning that means we don't need the term? Graham writes: "Web 2.0 means using the web the way it's meant to be used." There's nothing fundamentally new, but there is a groundswell of understanding of what's been there all along.

For me, that's a wonderful encapsulation of both current web trends and my aspirations for XTech. "Web 2.0" is a just a handy label for this.

"The Web as it was meant to be used" will strike a chord with many web practitioners today--whether it's sensible use of web services with REST, improving user interaction in web design, or open semantics and data interchange. If you're involved in using the web as it's meant to be used, consider submitting an XTech proposal.

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